Dorika Uwimana underwent an eight-hour surgery on Monday and was improving on Wednesday morning, said her father, Twizere Buhinja.
Buhinja, who speaks limited English, said, “She’s doing good because Monday the doctor gave her a new heart. We were waiting for a long time, but already she has it.
“She’s feeling well,” Buhinja said. “Yesterday, she was weak. She’s talking, but her voice isn’t strong yet.”
Asked whether Dorika remembered much about the attack, Buhinja said, “She remembers, yeah. She remembers.”
Buhinja said his daughter is “still pretty upset” and that sometimes she wants to talk about the attack, but at other times does not.
Dorika was attacked on April 19 while walking to her school bus at Calmont Avenue and Laredo Drive in the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood in west Fort Worth, according to Fort Worth police.
Although she escaped her attacker, later identified as 36-year-old Terry Wayne King II, she was strangled for so long that the lack of oxygen flowing through her body left her heart damaged. She was later placed on a waiting list to receive a new heart.
“I have hope she’s going to get better,” Buhinja said. “But she’s going to use medicine forever.”
He said he has essentially been living at the hospital since the attack.
“My family is doing well and we have hope,” he said.
King was arrested on July 17 in Oklahoma and is currently awaiting transport to Tarrant County, where he faces a charge of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. If convicted, he could receive life in prison.
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In 1996, Buhinja fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and settled in a refugee camp in Uganda. He later traveled with his family to the United States and have lived in Fort Worth for less than two years.
Now the family is facing rising medical bills in the aftermath of the seemingly random attack on Dorika.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $25,000 to help cover Dorika’s medical and other expenses. As of Tuesday night, contributors had raised just over $3,900.